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Miller in August 2008
October 11, 1951 |
|Sports commentary career|
|Team(s)||San Francisco Giants|
Jon Wesley Miller (born October 11, 1951) is an American sportscaster, known primarily for his broadcasts of Major League Baseball. He is currently employed as a play-by-play announcer for the San Francisco Giants. He was also a baseball announcer on ESPN from 1990 to 2010. Miller received the Ford C. Frick Award from the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2010.
Early life and education
Jon Miller grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. After graduating from Hayward High School in 1969, Miller commuted across the bay to take broadcasting classes at the College of San Mateo. He began his broadcasting career at the college's FM radio station (KCSM-FM) and UHF/PBS TV station (KCSM-TV), which reached much of the Bay Area. His first baseball broadcasts were from CSM games.
For a brief period in the 1970s, Miller broadcast for the California Golden Seals of the National Hockey League. He also spent the early part of his career announcing San Francisco Dons and Pacific Tigers men's college basketball (1976–1980), the Golden State Warriors of the NBA (part-time, 1979–1982), and the original San Jose Earthquakes of the North American Soccer League.
Jon Miller's first network exposure came in 1976, when he was selected by CBS-TV to broadcast the NASL Championship Game. From 1974–1976, Miller did play-by-play for the Washington Diplomats of the NASL. He also announced the Soccer Game of the Week for nationally syndicated TVS from 1977–1978.
Miller was dismissed by the Athletics following the 1974 season. After brief stints with the Texas Rangers (1978–79) and the Boston Red Sox (1980–82), he was hired in 1983 by Baltimore's WFBR Radio, which at the time served as the flagship station for the Baltimore Orioles.
After the 1982 season, Chuck Thompson moved from the radio booth to do TV broadcasts full-time, and WFBR's president Harry Shriver brought in Miller to handle radio play-by-play duties with fellow broadcaster Tom Marr. In his first year in Baltimore, Miller called the Orioles' World Series championship run, including the last out of Game 5:
|“||Everybody else is in muted silence. The pitch! Line drive! Ripken catches it at shortstop! And the Orioles are champions of the world!||”|
He eventually signed a contract directly with the Orioles and, while the broadcast rights eventually moved to rival station WBAL, Miller remained their primary announcer through 1996. At the end of that season, Orioles owner Peter Angelos, displeased with Jon's often candid commentary on the Orioles play, declined to renew his contract, citing a desire for a broadcaster who would "bleed more orange and black." Miller returned to the Bay Area and joined his hometown Giants, whose colors are also orange and black.
San Francisco Giants
Since 1997, Miller has been the primary play-by-play voice of the San Francisco Giants (replacing Hank Greenwald), calling games on KNBR radio as well as KTVU (1997–2007) and KNTV (2008–present) television. In February 2007, he signed a six-year extension to remain the voice of the Giants through at least the 2012 season. On September 4, 2010, Miller called his first game for CSN Bay Area as a substitute for Dave Flemming, who was broadcasting a Stanford Cardinal football game on the radio.
On May 27, 2003, during a game between the Giants and Arizona Diamondbacks, Miller called a play involving two defensive errors by the Diamondbacks and at least three separate baserunning mistakes by Giants outfielder Rubén Rivera. When Rivera was finally thrown out at home plate trying to score what would have been the winning run, Miller declared,
|“||That was the worst base running in the history of the game!||”|
 The phrase was repeated numerous times on sports radio and highlight shows such as SportsCenter, and quickly became one of the most famous calls of Miller's long career. He did a similar call on the radio during Game 3 of the 2004 World Series between the Boston Red Sox and the St. Louis Cardinals, when Jeff Suppan made a baserunning mistake.
His call of home run #756
On August 7, 2007, Miller made the call of Barry Bonds' record-breaking 756th home run on KNBR. His call of the historic home run will likely go down in history as the voice of the moment:
|“||Three and two to Bonds. Everybody standing here at 24 Willie Mays Plaza. An armada of nautical craft gathered in McCovey Cove beyond the right field wall. Bonds one home run away from history. (crack of the bat) and he swings, and there's a long one into right center field, way back there, it's gone! A home run! Into the center field bleachers to the left of the 421 foot marker. An extraordinary shot to the deepest part of the yard! And Barry Bonds with 756 home runs, he has hit more home runs than anyone who has ever played the game!||”|
Miller honored by the Giants
On July 16, 2010, the Giants organization, including fellow broadcaster Dave Flemming, honored Miller at AT&T Park before the game against the New York Mets, which came about one week before Miller received the Ford C. Frick Award. Before the game got started, Miller threw out the ceremonial first pitch, but by then, the game time was delayed 25 minutes. Current KNTV news anchor Raj Mathai had to briefly broadcast part of the first inning before Miller took over since Miller had to make his way from the playing field to the broadcast booth.
National baseball work
From 1986–1989 Miller did backup play-by-play for NBC's Saturday Game of the Week telecasts, paired with either Tony Kubek or Joe Garagiola. He also called regional telecasts for The Baseball Network in 1994–1995.
From 1990–2010 Miller did national television and radio broadcasts of regular-season and postseason games for ESPN, most prominently alongside Hall of Famer Joe Morgan on the network's Sunday Night Baseball telecasts. Among his ESPN assignments, Miller called 13 World Series and 10 League Championship Series for ESPN Radio. During Game 3 of the 2000 World Series, Miller was forced to leave the booth after the top of the first inning due to an upper respiratory infection. Charley Steiner, serving as a field reporter for the network, filled in on play-by-play for the rest of the game; Miller resumed his duties in Game 4 of the Series. In November 2010, it was announced that Miller and Morgan would not be returning to the Sunday night telecasts for the 2011 season. Miller was offered, but declined, a continued role with ESPN Radio.
Miller's voice can be heard in a 1982 episode of Cheers, during a scene where the gang at the bar is watching a Red Sox game on the television. He also is briefly heard in the films 61* and Summer Catch and in the English release of the animated movie My Neighbors the Yamadas, and appears as himself in two episodes of the HBO series Arliss.
In 1998, Miller wrote a book with Mark S. Hyman entitled Confessions of a Baseball Purist: What's Right—and Wrong—with Baseball, as Seen from the Best Seat in the House (ISBN 0-8018-6316-3), where he expounds on the current state of the sport.
Miller's delivery is notable for his easygoing, sometimes humorous manner and measured use of hyperbole, particularly in banter with his partner sportscasters. He livens up many broadcasts with a few Hawaiian and Japanese phrases spoken with impeccable pronunciation, and has been known to announce a half inning totally in Spanish.
It is notable that Miller generally pronounces foreign language names with the source language pronunciation, in contrast with broadcasters who "Americanize" foreign-named players. He is also known for his unique pronunciation of the word safe, which sounds more like an umpire's call "tafe!", on plays where a baserunner attempts to slide into a base prior to being tagged out.
Miller will occasionally quote lines from Shakespeare plays during radio broadcasts. He is well known for his foul ball call, "That ball is fooooul", and his emphatic cries of "Safe!" on close plays and "Two!" for a successful double play. Early in his career, Miller would punctuate home runs with the signature call, "Tell it goodbye!" (in emulation of longtime Giants announcer Lon Simmons), although he has eschewed this in recent years (although he continues to refer to a home run as a "big fly"). His home run call for Hispanic batters is now punctuated, "Adios, pelota!"
Miller is noted in baseball circles for his impersonation of Los Angeles Dodgers announcer Vin Scully. Miller also imitates Harry Caray, Chuck Thompson, Jack Buck, Al Michaels, Babe Ruth, Bob Sheppard, and Harry Kalas, among others. Asked how he got into broadcasting play by play of baseball games, he recalled being in the booth for a major league game with one of the announcers of the day. This announcer had a sandwich in one hand and the latest best seller in the other. Between pitches he would read a page, and sometimes take a bite from the sandwich. Miller told the audience (WBAL - 1990s) that he decided that any job where you could watch a ball game, eat dinner and read a good book was the one for him.
While calling games on the radio for the Giants, Miller occasionally introduces himself and his fellow broadcaster(s), followed by the phrase, "your Giants broadcasters". The same is repeated when Miller is on TV, except he replaces the word "broadcasters" with "telecasters." (Miller is referred to by fellow Giants broadcaster Mike Krukow as "The Big Kahuna".) He would use similar terminology for his Sunday Night Baseball telecasts on ESPN ("your Sunday night telecasters") and his World Series broadcasts for ESPN Radio ("your World Series broadcasters").
Awards and honors
Miller received numerous honors for his ESPN work, including a Cable ACE Award and several Emmy Award nominations. The National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association inducted him into its Hall of Fame in 1998, the Baseball Hall of Fame selected him for its Ford C. Frick Award in 2010, and the National Radio Hall of Fame inducted him in 2014.
- Singer, Tom (2010-02-01). "Giants' Miller honored with Frick award". MLB.com. Retrieved 2010-02-02.
- "Jon Miller Wows Hall of Fame Audience".
- Giants honor broadcaster Miller
- Giants pay tribute to broadcaster Miller
- Sandomir, Richard (2010-11-08). "Miller and Morgan Done on Sunday Night". The New York Times.
- Sandomir, Richard (2010-11-22). "Miller Declines ESPN's Radio Offer". The New York Times.
- Jon Miller's ESPN Bio
- KFTY newscast from 1972 featuring a young Jon Miller on YouTube
- Audio clip of Jon Miller's call of Ruben Rivera's infamous baserunning gaffe
- Jon Miller Wows Hall of Fame Audience
- Radio made Jon Miller raconteur in TV booth
- Video of Miller during his time as Baltimore Orioles broadcaster on YouTube